Have you ever wondered what's in doggie treats? Why is it that these simple snacks have the power to make dogs sit, speak or roll over with such enthusiasm? The answer probably has a lot to do with canines' insatiable appetites and not-so-discriminating palates. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise to learn that most dog treats are actually quite simple to make. In fact, making munchies for your mutt is easy enough that you can do it with your kids. They'll enjoy the fun of working in the kitchen, and your hound will appreciate having a stockpile of homemade snacks.
Preparing delicious treats for your pet is a great way to ensure that he is getting wholesome, natural foods in his diet. It's also a wonderful way to bond with your kids. Sure, they'll probably make a bit of a mess, but your dog will quickly slurp up anything that drops to the floor. Making dog treats is also inexpensive. All you will need are some basic cooking tools, a few common kitchen ingredients, and a pinch of patience.
Are you ready to get started? Check out our list of five dog treats that kids can make.
5: Banana Bites
When you think of foods that make your furry friend flip, bananas probably don't immediately come to mind. While it's true that fruit isn't usually at the top of any dog's list of favorite fare, using bananas in baking is a great way to create delicious and healthy treats. The best part about banana bites is that your kids can eat them too!
Start by gathering all the necessary ingredients:
- 3 cups oatmeal
- 1-1/4 cup of flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 mashed bananas
Mix all the wet ingredients together first (oil, honey, milk, and bananas), and then add the flour and oatmeal until you have a smooth batter. Put older kids in charge of measuring and younger ones in charge of mixing. Everyone can help pour the batter onto a lightly greased cookie sheet, and then bake at 325 degrees (160 degrees Celsius) for 25 minutes. Once your banana bites are cool to the touch, use a knife or pizza cutter to slice them into small, bite-sized squares.
Dogs really go bananas for these yummy snacks, but don't let your pet eat too many, as they can be fattening. Particularly if your dog is prone to pudginess, be sure to limit him to just a few treats per day. Banana bites can also be used as incentive to exercise or do tricks. Keep them in the refrigerated until your dog does something treat-worthy.
4: Buckwheat Bone Biscuits
If you've always wanted to make your own doggie biscuits, this simple recipe is perfect for you and your kids. Dogs love to chew on bones, and most simply die for these beefy buckwheat varieties. Your dog doesn't even need to know that these biscuits are all natural and a great source of protein.
This recipe is especially good for kids who love to measure. It's a cooking class and a math lesson all in one!
Start by measuring out all the ingredients, which include:
- 3-1/2 cups of buckwheat flour
- 1-1/2 cups of rolled oats
- 1/2 cup of ground beef
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1 cup of water
- Pinch of salt
- 1 egg
As each item is measured, let your kids take turns adding it to the mixing bowl (everything goes in at once). Next comes the fun part: kneading. Children are great at this. Let them go crazy with the dough – the thicker the better.
The easiest way to make these biscuits into the shape of bones is to use a bone-shaped cookie cutter, which you can find in a variety of pet supply stores. Alternatively, you could carve the bones fairly easily with a knife. For the latter approach, it will help to make a bone pattern from paper or cardboard to guide the knife. You'll get uniform shapes that way.
One you've formed your beefy buckwheat biscuits and placed them on a cookie or baking sheet, all that's left is to bake them at 375 degrees (190 degrees Celsius) for about 30 minutes. Here's a tip for making your biscuits (and just about any oven-baked doggie snack) hard and crunchy instead of soft and chewy: Once they're done baking, allow them to cool for a few hours in the turned-off oven.
3: Carob Cookies
If you're the proud owner of a canine with a sweet tooth, you need this recipe for carob-coated cookies. Note that the choice of carob instead of chocolate is important. Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical that's toxic to dogs.
To make these incredibly yummy canine cookies, you'll need the following:
- 2-1/4 cups of whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup applesauce
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup of hot water
- 1/4 cup of oil
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1 tablespoon of molasses
- 1 cup of carob chips
Start by mixing all of these ingredients -- except for the carob chips -- together, kneading them into dough on a lightly floured surface. Then, form them into whatever shapes your hound hankers for and bake them at 300 degrees (150 degrees Celsius) for 30 minutes.
For kids, the best part of this recipe is the process of coating the cookies in carob. Melt the carob chips either in the microwave or in a pan on the stove. Then, have your little ones dip the treats into the gooey goodness or paint it on with a pastry brush. You can feed the cookies to your pet still warm, or pop them into the fridge until he's ready for them. Your kids will love creating their carob-coated goodies, and your hound will be more than happy to devour them.
2: Beefy Birthday Cake
Dogs love birthday celebrations just as much as people do. Along with gifts and plenty of attention and affection, dogs also need cake for their birthday bashes. And not just any cake, canines crave the meaty goodness of beefy birthday cake on their special days.
The idea of a cake made from meat is probably not your idea of an ideal birthday treat, but dogs will love this proteinaceous pastry. What's more, this doggie delicacy is quite simple to prepare, even with little ones.
Before you start, preheat the oven to 325 degrees (160 degrees Celsius) and have a greased cake pan ready. Then, gather up the ingredients:
- 2-1/2 cups of buckwheat flour
- 1-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1/2 cup of butter
- 1/2 cup of oil
- 4 ounces of ground beef
- 2 strips of beef jerky
- 3 eggs
Cream together all the wet ingredients first (butter, oil, beef, and eggs), and then fold in the dry ones (flour and baking powder) as you mix it all together, crumbling the beef jerky in at the end. Then, pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 60 minutes. Be sure to allow the cake to cool before icing it with cream cheese.
Kids can help with the icing as well as all the mixing and involved in this recipe. They can also decorate the beefcake with shaved carrots, peas, and whatever other wholesome ingredients your dog might like to have at his pooch party. Be sure to refrigerate any uneaten cake. It's even better the next day.
1: Pea-Nutty Nibbles
Nothing says, "You've been a good dog" more than the scrumptious taste of peanut butter treats. Make a batch of pea-nutty nibbles for your pet and he's sure to reward you with a nice long snooze at your feet.
To make these treats, start by mixing 2 cups of whole wheat flour with a half-cup cup of oatmeal and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Next, combine a half-cup of creamy peanut butter, a half-cup of water and a half-cup of chicken broth, and then microwave it for 15 to 30 seconds – just until it forms a smooth liquid. Add the mixture to your dry ingredients and stir until dough forms.
Drop the dough into small rounds and have your kids use their thumbs to press a well into each cookie as they flatten it. Place the pea-nutty nibbles on a cookie sheet that's been lightly coated with a non-stick spray. Bake at 325 degrees (160 degrees Celsius) for 15 minutes and allow the treats to cool in the oven. Let your kids fill the cookie wells with sugar-free jelly or jam and then feed them to your dog. He'll be the happiest hound on the block.
Lots More Information
- How to Make Dog Treats
- Make Your Own Eco-Friendly Dog Food
- Is Chocolate Poisonous to Dogs?
- What Ingredients are Important in Senior Dog Food?
- How to Care for a Dog: Dog-Feeding Tips
- How Dogs Work
- American Kennel club. Nutrition and Feeding. (March 18, 2012) http://www.akc.org/public_education/nutrition_feeding.cfm
- Bullwrinkle. Homemade Dog Treat Birthday Cake. (March 18, 2012) http://www.bullwrinkle.com/Assets/Recipes/Birthday%20Cake%20for%20Pups.htm
- Dog Treat Kitchen. Classic Peanut Butter Dog treats. (March 18, 2012) http://www.dogtreatkitchen.com/peanut-butter-dog-treats-with-jam.html
- Dog Treat Recipe Exchange. Carob Dog Treat Recipes. (March 18, 2012) http://www.dog-treat-recipe-exchange.com/carob-dog-treat-recipes
- Dog Treat Recipes. Low Fat Carrot Dog Treats. (March 18, 2012) http://www.dogtreatrecipes.org/healthy-dog-treats-low-fat-carrot-dog-treats-recipe.html
- Moore, Shannon. Dog treat aficionada. Personal communication. (March 18, 2012)